At age 19, Alex Jeffery has already accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime. An entrepreneur, a small business owner, a visionary, and a social innovator, his journey to realizing his passions in life has landed him as one of Australia’s most respected young leaders. We spoke with this dynamic and passionate teenager and are now even more excited to see him speak at [email protected] tomorrow.   Tell us a little about your background.
I grew up in Melbourne, Australia and went through kindergarten, primary school and secondary school all in my local area, Upwey! My journey as an entrepreneur and visionary started at age 11 when I was shocked to see a World Vision ad to “sponsor a child” while I was watching Jumanji with my older brother. This sparked my journey to work out how I could make as a bigger difference as I possibly could.
Since the age of 12, I’ve been starting up mini ventures, making many mistakes and slowly making the ventures more and more complex. One of my biggest values and guiding principles is “impact,” and so there has always been a sense of social and/or environmental impact embedded in each idea.
Along the way I have pursued my training as a Martial Artist and as a keen guitarist. Music to me is an amazing tool that can be used to bring people together in a very unique way.
I have graduated from High School in 2012 and since have not studied at a tertiary level institute.
Wow, that’s quite the story! What specific experiences growing up in Australia have shaped your life now?
I would say that my experiences in pursuing Martial Arts since 8 years old have had a dramatic effect on who I am and what I do today. This is where I believe a lot of my focus, self-discipline and perseverance stems from. Without these fundamental leadership and character skills I don’t believe I would be where I am today.
Another very general aspect of my last 19 years in Australia is the lifestyle that we lead in Australia being very active, grounded and community-driven. I value community and groups of people helping each other very much and aim to build this wherever I go.
In Australia and very much so from where in Australia I am from (in the mountains surrounding Melbourne), we are very connected to the environment around us and are taught to respect nature and our planet. I guess this has meant that I value nature a lot and really do as much as possible to connect with our planet, align myself with it and truly respect it. I believe this is possibly one of the major aspects of the culture in Australia that has shaped me today.
What does “emergence” mean to you?
To me “emergence” means the coming of ideas, projects and solutions as a result of the space, environment and conditions being in the right alignment to allow it. It is when things aren’t forced and yet results and outcomes (usually better then expected) emerge when it is not expected.
The word “emerge” seems to be used most often when it is almost a “surprise” … when there is no solid expectation in place. To me this emphasizes the fact that to allow emergence we can’t build linear systems…they need to be enabling systems built on the principles behind nature, ecology and biology.
What does the “Social-Era” of Business mean to you?
We are now in a time where our generation cares more than ever about the impact we as individuals and as a collective, create! We are more connected to the world around us and so are more aware of how our actions create global ripple effects and what this has meant in terms of the conditions we are in today.
Our generation thinks and behaves completely differently from previous generations because of this and we are more “social” in that we care about our impact and connection/relationship with those around us. We are demanding businesses to act more socially and become clean in the way they operate as an organisation.
At the same time as we mean “social” as in impact, we are also much more social in that we are connected in the way we are and we rely on our peer’s opinions and what the “crowd” believes about certain topics more than we do about a company’s marketing messages.
We are buying more and more based on what our friends are saying on social media, than what the companies themselves are saying about the products. This represents a shift to a global community that is coming together, sharing knowledge and insights, and ultimately making sure that we protect each other in making the right decisions.
Tell us about Onely:
Onely stemmed out of the first ONEWorld Summit we ran in Melbourne in August 2013. I’ve always been intrigued with the opportunity we have to leverage the potential within ourselves as one world in order to design and co-create the future we actually want to experience. I suppose I could never understand why we weren’t working collaboratively when we are truly all connected and effected by the very same issues.
I believe that if we all truly allow ourselves to follow our gifts and do what really makes us excited, we can work together in collaboration to awaken, heal and create an abundant and sustainable future.
We see Onely more as a lifestyle, a culture and a set of principles and values. For us it is a way of thinking, acting and relating. Our vision is that we are a branded impact investment fund creating an eco-system of high-impact ventures working in collaboration and sharing resources in pursuit of shared visions. This eco-system will be designed around permaculture and natural laws.
Right now we have a couple of projects growing, such as:
  • global experience, the ONEWorld Summit Series, taking place in 5 countries and 7 cities around the world
  • a series of communities and spaces offline in around the world fostering, nurturing and growing visionary, progressive and supportive communities
  • a new-age culture-shift consulting group helping large corporations shift to a more nature driven business structure and a culture of purpose, collaboration and innovation
For us this is the beginning of a larger eco-system of organisations and people all playing their unique role in “change” as a whole and working collaboratively.
What can and should small businesses do differently?
I believe small businesses have incredible potential to make a HUGE impact on a local level. They all have the opportunity to to create a strong community in their local area in order to enable small groups of people around the world to grow, share, shine and contribute together.
I also believe this is incredibly valuable for small businesses to build a community around their business and really serve them. As well as community building, integrating technology into their business is also going to be key for them to be able to really grow their impact.
Why is entrepreneurship important?
Entrepreneurship is so important for the growth and progress of humanity as a whole for so many reasons. The first is that it takes entrepreneurial thinking to see our “problems” not as negative situations but as pockets of opportunity for growth and innovation. It takes entrepreneurial and creative thinking to tap into the abundant resources we truly have in order to move forward in the direction we desire. We don’t have limited resources, we have unlimited resources but seemingly limited creativity. Entrepreneurship has us capture these opportunities and turn problems into meaningful solutions!! Entrepreneurship is also a way to enable people to truly live and give their unique gifts to the world. In a job landscape where it is becoming harder and harder to find work, creating our own work based on our strengths and gifts is going to be the best way for us as individuals and as a whole to survive and thrive. When people are empowered to create as well as simply participate, the outcomes and options are truly endless.
Do you have any entrepreneurs or small businesses you admire in particular?
For a very long time (and to this day, for sure!), I admire Richard Branson and Elon Musk a great deal! To me Richard Branson is not only making a significant difference in so many different ways, but he is also doing it so authentically. You see how much fun he has doing the work he does and to me this shows the authenticity coming through in his work. He has truly been able to let his message of “doing good and doing well” shine and inspire millions of people around the world.
Elon Musk is also someone I look up to very much for his relentless innovation and game-changing! Even though he is obviously very financially comfortable and could easily sit back and enjoy having the wealth he does, he has chosen to take HUGE risks, push big boundaries and challenge the status-quo in ways that have turned so many heads! I really admire this attitude and his commitment to really doing things differently in order to make a difference.
If you weren’t pursuing entrepreneurship, what would you be doing? 
This is a very hard question to answer as I really don’t feel there is anything in the world that would allow me to be truly in my “bliss” and sharing my natural gift with the world, other than the freedom entrepreneurship gives me to do this. Sitting in an office is really not something I could thrive in and be truly satisfied with.
However, if there was one thing I would be doing if not entrepreneurship, I would say it would be organizing experiential events that bring people together and have them connect with their true authentic gifts through yoga, meditation, music and workshops.
As you may know, my personal mission is to bring our generation ALIVE and TOGETHER and I believe events that involved certain elements and experiences have the power to truly have people connect deeply with themselves and the world around them in order to work synergistically to shared goals instead of individual ideals.
What is something few people know about you?
This is something that I have only recently opened up to people about, but I struggled for years sharing this with people. It was one of my most vulnerable topics.
As I started this journey at 12 years old and am extremely passionate about it I found it very hard during my teenage years to make friends and connect with people properly. Every time my friends would ask to go out with them or go to a party, I would always make up an excuse about having to “work” or something else that meant I could just keep working.
This led to me honestly being very lonely and not having many strong relationships. This really did effect my teenage experience and is something I only recently was able to overcome by opening up and allowing myself to connect with people.
If there is one lesson I took away from this and would like to share it would be to never EVER prioritize anything over your relationships with the people around you. They are your most valuable asset and need to be placed above other things as much as possible.